Former Health Minister Norman Lamb has said that there was “an extraordinary establishment cover up” at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital, as police begin a criminal investigation.
The investigation was launched by Kent Police on Tuesday into a scandal in which hundreds of patients died after being given powerful painkillers.
A report into the scandal last year found that more than 450 people had their lives shortened at the Hampshire hospital while another 200 were "probably" similarly given opioids between 1989 and 2000 without medical justification.
Mr Lamb told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer that the police investigation was “a big breakthrough”.
“We know opioids kill that is why they are used at the end of life,” he said.
“But they were being prescribed to patients who had been admitted for rehabilitation.
“There could be no possible justification for that and it had been kept covered up for many years.”
He added: “I fear that there has been an extraordinary establishment cover-up.”
Mr Lamb suggested that rebuilding trust between the families who lost relatives and the authorities would be “a painstaking exercise”.
“There is a general sense that these people have lost all trust in the authorities and in the system of justice and understandably so,” he said.